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The Legacy of an Assumption Hacker

Jul 02, 2024

 

6 minute read...

This year marks Jenrada’s 5th as a company. 

When it was time to give my new company a name, I was told that it should incorporate my target market and the business’s function. Names like “Scheinkopf Consulting” and “Scheinkopf TOC Educators”  and “TOC [fill-in-the-blank]” were at the top of the list of anyone who tried to help me figure it out. 

But I wanted the name of my company to be more meaningful to me than a variation and combination of “TOC” and “Scheinkopf”. I wanted it to be a name that would help me stay motivated in times of struggle and a constant reminder of my big Why.

 

 

Felt like love and sounded like flow. 

I took my time, played with letters and words and names, and ultimately “Jenrada” emerged.  Jenrada combines the first letters of the names of the  three people who are most important in my life. Jen and Ra are for Jennifer and Rachel, my daughters. Da is for Danny, my husband of 43 years.  When I put those letters together and said the name out loud, I knew I had it. Jenrädä. It felt like love and sounded like flow, at least to me.

By naming my company for my family, I went against the well-meaning advice of my colleagues and friends. But I fulfilled a more personal set of criteria. I was also able to create a built-in sense of accountability: what the company does is not only done in my name, but also in theirs. For me, this means that whatever Jenrada does must be done in a way that honors my family. It must be high in value, high in quality, high in trustworthiness, and done with love and joyfulness.

This year not only marks the 5th anniversary of my company, it also marks the 10th year since my daughter Jennifer passed away from brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme). Jenn passed on August 2, 2014, just a few weeks shy of her 33rd birthday. I hope that you never ever have to feel the pain of losing a child.

 

 

An Assumption Hacker’s Legacy

Today’s newsletter is focused on honoring Jenn.

Though Jenn passed away well before I had coined the term Assumption Hacking, she embodied many of its core principles. I want to share a few examples with you today, places where she demonstrated resilience and overcame the mindset traps I’ve written about in past newsletters and the Assumption Hacking Essentials course.

 

 

Avoiding the “I Know!” Trap

Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the deadliest of brain cancers. Median survival rate is 14 months, and only 3-5% of patients survive more than 3 years1. When we sat in the neuro-oncologist’s office in early January 2007 to learn about her diagnosis, the doctor turned to Jenn and said, “I’m sure you looked at the statistics before you came here.” Yes, we had. He went on, “We want you to know – statistics look at what has happened in the past, they are not crystal balls that tell you what exactly will transpire in your future. You are not a statistic and I am not here to predict when exactly you will die. Instead, my team and I are here to help you live.” 

And live she did. She beat the statistics by a landslide, surviving for more than 7 years beyond that day. Of course there were periods of time when the treatments were a challenge for her physically and emotionally, but for most of those remaining 7+ years, she focused on living her life while harvesting and spreading joy along the way. She and her partner went on trips together, she listened to music and danced in the rain, and every year we had a big party to celebrate another year of Jenn beating the stats. She completed her certification as a massage therapist and was an incredible healer for those who were lucky enough to have an hour or two with her hands and the company of her joyful healer’s spirit.

Jenn had a choice. She could have focused on the stats and been utterly depressed for what was to be the limited number of years she had remaining on this earth. Instead, she chose to remember that she didn’t actually KNOW what was to come! She reminded herself that the statistics were only a reflection of the past. She chose to embrace life instead of dwelling on her illness. 

Jenn’s spirit was infectious, and to this day, I try to honor her life by appreciating every moment and every day that life brings. Perhaps her story can spread a bit of that outlook to you and others.

 

Avoiding the Blame Trap

We knew that we were heading into a stressful time for our family, to say the least. And we knew that stress could lead to non-supportive behaviors and arguments. So, our family got together and made a pact. 

The pact started with a reminder that we were in this together. That the cancer was the thing that we were battling, not each other. And we predicted that we would each periodically need reminders of that. So we gave each other permission that whenever we found ourselves getting in that stressed out, blamey mode of behaving, we were allowed to hold each other accountable to that agreement. 

Yes, conflicts arose along the way. But they didn’t stay in our way. Instead, the relationships we had with each other strengthened over those 7+ years. By supporting each other, we became stronger individuals, too.  Not stronger as in hardened, but stronger as in more open and loving and being OK in vulnerability.

One of the ways I’ve talked about avoiding the blame trap is by starting with the assumption that people are good. And Jennifer embodied this assumption. From the moment Jenn could express herself as a baby, she wore a big, welcoming smile for anybody and everybody. I can probably count on one hand the number of times in her life I heard her call someone a jerk. People said that her smile filled the room, and anybody who received a hug from her (and this was anyone who would want one) would say that her hug filled them up with joy. She truly loved people, and I imagine this was one of the reasons her massages were so fulfilling for the spirit (and not just the muscles).

As I reflect on Jenn, her life was a life of love. Love for other humans, as well as for animals and the earth we inhabit.

 

From Unsolvably Complex to Inherently Simple?

Perhaps Jenn’s life can point us toward real solutions for the escalating problems and seemingly intractable divisiveness we find ourselves facing today.  

Humor me here… What if it were as simple as starting with a recognition that we are all human beings? That we are all human beings who deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (to borrow a phrase from the US Declaration of Independence)? No matter who we are, no matter where we live, no matter where we sit in the corporate or political or geographic spectrum, we are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends… 

Maybe, just maybe, we can find the solutions to the most divisive problems by taking some cues from Jenn. Love life. Love each other. 

In the end, we are all the same in one sense:  none of us know how long we have, either to be with our loved ones or to make the sort of differences we’d like to make in our world.

 

The Challenge

To honor Jenn and mark this decade gone by without her physical presence, I’m issuing a challenge to anyone who reads this. Well, actually two challenges. Let’s see how far we can spread Jenn’s infectious smile and spirit. 

  1. Just be Nice. Be nice to someone you otherwise wouldn’t be. (I bet someone came to mind the moment you read the previous sentence.) Even if it’s just for a moment, just be nice. Maybe there will be a response, maybe there won’t. Notice how you feel when you do it.
  2. Dance in the Rain. Do something that brings you pure joy. For Jenn, it was listening to music and dancing in the rain. And if someone joined her, all the better! What is it for you?  

Lastly, there's a third part to this challenge.

3. Share your Story. Let’s see if Jenn’s infectious smile can be spread around the world. Do any or both of these challenges as often as you’d like and share your story. I can't wait to learn what you did and how you felt!

 

On August 2nd, I will gather what I received from you all and make a poster or art piece that I will bring to the temple at Burning Man this year, so that 80,000 more people will be exposed to Jenn’s spirit through your stories. I’ll share pictures of that with you when it’s completed.

I’d also like to have a conversation with those of you who contribute your stories. The conversation would take place in an online setting in either August or September and my hope is that we might encourage and learn from each other in the embracing of our common humanity. If you contribute one or more stories, you will receive an invitation to the meeting. 

Thanks for reading this newsletter today, one that is obviously very near and dear to my heart. If you find yourself assuming, acting, and/or dancing a bit more like Jenn this month, I’ll have considered it a wonderful success.  

And lastly, if you can think of a few others who could use more Jenn in their lives, I’d invite you to pass this week’s newsletter along. As we approach this 10th anniversary of her passing, Jenn’s impact on others only continues to grow.  

Lisa

1See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9826661/ and https://braintumor.org/events/glioblastoma-awareness-day/about-glioblastoma/.

 

Whenever you're ready, here are a couple more ways I can help you:

  • Assumption Hacking Essentials. Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt said in his forward to The Goal, “The challenging of basic assumptions is essential to breakthroughs.” In this digital course, I'll take you through a five step process for challenging those basic assumptions and creating breakthrough in the process. You can learn more about the course here. →
  • Jenrada Programs. Customized workshops and longer engagements to help you create an organization of aligned problem solvers delivering extraordinary results. Complete this form,  send me an email, or schedule a discovery call.  

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